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Moratalla, Murcia, Spain

Moratalla is a small town and the center of a large municipality of the same name in the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia in southeastern Spain.

It is chiefly a mountainous and comparatively cool territory (with regard to the region), snow being frequent in the highest zones (Revolcadores, 2,015 m/6,611 ft) and cold valleys (Campo de San Juan, El Sabinar). It is crossed by minor rivers (Alhárabe, Benamor) which flow into the Segura. There is a main reservoir of the Segura at El Cenajo. Main representatives of the local fauna are wild boars, Spanish Ibex, short-toed eagles and Moorish turtles. Wide portions of the municipality are protected in ZEPAs (Special Protection Areas) or LICs (Site of Community Importance areas). Its main economic resources are tourism and agriculture (apricots, almonds, olives and olive oil, wood, barley).

Moratalla’s sights include the Fortress Castle (Spanish: Castillo Fortaleza), home to the “Tribute Tower” (Spanish: La Torre del Homenaje), a military-gothic style building which dates from the 15th century. There is also an Arab castle in Benizar, built in the 12th century. The Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Asunción (Spanish: Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción) dates from the 16th century). Other churches include Santa Ana or San Francisco and the “House of Christ” (Spanish: La Casa de Cristo), on the mountain, built by the Order of La Merced from the 16th century. There are two Roman bridges in Moratalla: the Jesus Christ Bridge over the Benámor River, and the Hellin Bridge over the Alhárabe River.

Holy Week

During the Holy Week, there is a traditional tamborada, a collective drumming, which can last all day long. In southern Spain, tamboradas are characteristic of Moratalla as well as of Mula (in Murcia) and Hellín and Tobarra (in Albacete). A unique aspect of Moratalla’s Holy Week is that every tamborista (drummer) dresses in distinct, hand-made robes. Drums are also traditionally hand-made.

Fiestas del Santísimo Cristo del Rayo (Holy Christ of the Thunder Celebrations) July 11-17

This celebration takes place in the streets of Moratalla, in which cows and bulls are set free. People get together into their peñas, placed in the Eldest Street “Calle Mayor”, where they enjoy the party. There is also a fair which may be visited every night from 10 to 17 July. It’s like an amusement park with many “street-shops” where you can buy some hand-made products.

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